Pro-Russia Gunmen Seize Crimea Parliament
Hoist Russian flag over barricade
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 27, 2014 3:43 AM CST
Updated Feb 27, 2014 7:49 AM CST
Ukrainian police officers guard street in front of a local government building in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine today.   (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
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(Newser) – Ukraine puts its police on high alert after dozens of heavily armed pro-Russia gunmen stormed and seized control of government buildings in Ukraine's Crimea region early today and raised a Russian flag over a barricade. The men occupying the local parliament building did not immediately voice any demands but threw a flash grenade in response to a journalist's questions. They wore black and orange ribbons—a Russian symbol of victory in World War II—and put up a sign saying "Crimea is Russia." Ukraine's acting interior minister says police have sealed off the area and "will not allow the situation to escalate into an armed confrontation in the center of the city."

  • Oleksandr Turchinov, who stepped in as acting president after ousted president Viktor Yanukovich's flight, condemned the takeover of government buildings in Crimea as a "crime against the government of Ukraine." He warned that any move by Russian troops off of their base in Crimea "will be considered a military aggression."
  • The renewed tension in this strategic peninsula that houses Russia's Black Sea fleet came a day after clashes between pro- and anti-Russian demonstrators in Crimea's regional capital, Simferopol. Russian President Vladimir Putin put the military on alert for massive exercises involving most of the military units in western Russia. That move prompted a sharp rebuke from John Kerry, who warned Russia against any military intervention in Ukraine. Some 150,000 Russian soldiers carried out military exercises and 90 fighter jets patrolled the border.
  • Meanwhile, Yanukovich has surfaced in Russia and a new prime minister has been approved in Kiev.